Kingdom’s farm sector holds huge potential for investors

Updated 19 September 2012
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Kingdom’s farm sector holds huge potential for investors

Demand for agricultural products is swelling across Saudi Arabia, driven by a population boom, rising incomes, affluent lifestyles and a strong economy – the largest in the Gulf region.
Recent studies reveal that the Kingdom currently has around 34,997 hectares of organically planted land with sales of organic products expected to achieve 10 percent annual growth, fueled by the increasing awareness among the local community about the advantages and diversity offered by organic farming.
The study predicts organically planted land to form 5 percent of the total planted area in the Kingdom. Furthermore, poultry consumption is expected to grow by 17.2 percent to reach 1.6 million tons in 2016, while milk production could increase by more than 17 percent to 2.1 million tons between 2015 and 2016.
The Saudi government has allocated SR 60 billion to boost the domestic agricultural sector this year and is actively looking at regional and global agricultural products and services and focusing on organic alternative farming to meet the growing nutritional needs of its citizens.
The upcoming Saudi Agriculture 2012 – the 31st International Agriculture, Water and Agro-Industry Show — will unveil some of the latest solutions addressing the rising demand for agricultural products in the Kingdom and throughout the region. Running from Sept. 24 to 27 at the Riyadh International Convention & Exhibition Centre, the trade fair will cover animal health and production, agricultural finance and banking, agricultural products and services, chemicals and fertilizers, cold storage and crop production, and dairy farming products and equipment, among many others.
Confirming their presence in the event are several key regional and international agriculture industry players and leaders who will share business, investment and policy views with high-ranking agriculture officials. The event is accredited by UFI, the Global Association of the Exhibition Industry.
“Saudi Arabia holds huge potential for investors and businesses who want to work in the region’s largest growing agricultural marketplace.
The 2012 national budget shows how the government has taken a serious stance toward addressing the food needs of its people so now is the perfect time to forge and strengthen ties among local agricultural and food players. Saudi Agriculture 2012 is an ideal platform for determining which solutions can drive the Saudi food agenda,” said Khalid Daou, project manager of Saudi Agriculture at Riyadh Exhibitions Company.
Saudi Agriculture 2012 will showcase the latest in animal health and production, agricultural finance and banking, agricultural products and services, chemicals and fertilizers, cold storage and crop production, dairy farming products and equipment, fisheries and fish farming, greenhouses, handling and transport systems, irrigation and landscaping equipment, machinery and spare parts, organic farming, packaging systems and products, pesticides, pumps and pipe systems, seeds and soil nutrition products, spraying machinery, water treatment, water management systems and warehousing.
Running concurrently with Saudi Agriculture 2012 is the Saudi Agro-Food 2012 — the 19th International Trade Show for Food Products,
and the Saudi Food-Pack — The International Exhibition for Food Processing and Packaging, to feature the latest products, technologies and services in areas ranging from frozen and chilled foods, confectionery, chocolates, health and natural foods, to presentation, processing and packaging equipment.


Angola battles to revive oil exploration as output declines

Updated 16 November 2018
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Angola battles to revive oil exploration as output declines

  • Without another mega-project like Total’s Kaombo on the horizon and fields getting old, Africa’s second-largest crude producer is facing a steep decline
  • Sonangol, the state oil company, is negotiating contracts for new blocks with oil majors and Angola plans to hold an auction next year

LUANDA: On Saturday, nearly two decades after securing the initial rights, Total’s CEO, Patrick Pouyanne, was in Luanda to snip the ribbon on a $16 billion oil project. It is not clear when he, or his peers, will be celebrating in Angola again.

Without another mega-project like Total’s Kaombo on the horizon and fields getting old, Africa’s second-largest crude producer is facing a steep decline unless it can revive exploration in what was once one of the world’s most exciting offshore prospects.
Sonangol, the state oil company, is negotiating contracts for new blocks with oil majors and Angola plans to hold an auction next year, the first tender for exploration rights since 2011.
It is a race against time for a country where oil accounts for 95 percent of exports and around 70 percent of government revenues. Luck will also play a part, as it always does in exploration where finding oil can never be guaranteed.
But without new projects, output could fall to 1 million barrels per day by 2023, according to the oil ministry. That is down from 1.5 million today and nearly half of what Angola was producing a decade ago. The country risks having its OPEC quota cut and is struggling to ensure the long-term feed for its $10 billion liquid natural gas plant.
President Joao Lourenco won an August 2017 election promising an “economic miracle” in Angola, which despite its oil wealth struggles to provide basic services to a mostly impoverished population that is growing at 3 percent a year. But falling oil production means a third consecutive contraction is expected in 2018, even while annual inflation runs at 18 percent.
To turn things around, Angola has asked international oil companies to the table, offering better fiscal terms and more collaboration.
With the time from exploration to first oil on new areas anything from five to 10 years, Angola is also offering tax breaks to encourage companies to link existing marginal discoveries to operating production platforms.
There are signs the measures are working, though some oil experts wonder at what cost for the southwest African country.
“The level of exploration activity in Angola is beginning to change,” Sonangol’s chairman, Carlos Saturnino, said at Saturday’s inauguration.
He expects between five and 10 new concessions to be signed next year.
Exxon, he said, had shown interest in some blocks in southern Angola’s unexplored Namib basin, while advanced discussions are being held with BP, Equinor and ENI for the rights to the ultra-deep offshore blocks 46 and 47.
BP and ENI declined to comment. Equinor and Exxon did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Total, which operates 40 percent of Angola’s production, plans to drill its first exploration well in four years. Beneath 3,630m of water on block 48, it will be one of the world’s deepest.
“We hope it will be a play-opener for the ultra-deep in Angola,” said Andre Goffart, senior vice president for development. “We are seeing a new wave of exploration in Angola.”
These signs of fresh exploration come after a period of near-paralysis due to a lack of drilling success, a slump in oil prices and a deteriorating relationship between Sonangol and the oil majors.
Angola’s offshore reserves are expensive to explore and develop, making it a hard sell for shareholders when oil is at $40. The number of rigs operating off Angola’s shores dropped from 18 in early 2014 to just two in 2017, according to oil services company Baker Hughes.
The steep drop in prices from 2014 came just as companies were smarting from the failure to discover Brazil-like oil
reservoirs beneath a layer of salt on the African side of the Atlantic. The search for the “Angolan pre-salt” resulted in some of the most expensive dry wells ever drilled and sapped exploration appetite.
Critics say the situation was exacerbated by Isabel dos Santos, the former president’s daughter and previous chair of Sonangol, under whose leadership new projects ground to a halt. Dos Santos denies allegations of mismanagement, saying she helped turn around an almost bankrupt company.
“There are few places in the world right now where the oil majors are in as good a negotiating position as here,” said one international oil executive in Luanda on condition of anonymity.
Some local experts fear the deals Angola is striking are too beneficial for the companies, although details remain private.
“If Angola gives away too much it could create problems further down the line,” said Jose Oliveira, an oil specialist at the Catholic University in Luanda.
But the country has little choice given its imminent production decline and a lack of money or expertise to lead the drilling campaigns itself.